Letter to Students and Parents from our Principal Ms Ní Mhurchú

 Mon, 27th Apr, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian

We hope you and your families are all well. We appreciate how challenging the current Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis has been for families, and we are working hard to support all students and parents/guardians in our school community as the crisis evolves.  We know from feedback from our staff and interactions with students, that students and teachers miss school-life and attending classes.  The past few weeks have presented many challenges, but the resolve of our students, staff and parents/guardians to engage in this steep learning curve in working from home is truly admirable.  We are very proud that so many students and our staff are working very hard to minimise disruption to learning.  Everyone in our school community has embraced the new term called ‘Distance Learning’ in an effort to fulfil a continuity of learning.

As you are aware, schools have remained closed to students since 13 March 2020.  The current health advice is that all schools will remain closed to students until at least Tuesday, 5 May 2020 (after the May Bank Holiday weekend) but realistically we may be closed for a longer period.

We have listened carefully to feedback from our students, staff and parents.  We want to ensure that we focus our efforts for the next few weeks on teaching, learning and the provision of effective feedback to students.

Students in Sixth Year and Third Year

We are especially mindful of the decision that affects students in Sixth Year and Third Year regarding the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate examinations.

The most up to date information on exam and assessment schedules is available on the website of the State Examinations Commission: www.examinations.ie/misc-doc/BI-SE-67826275.pdf .

The new LC timetable will be published in the first week of June and the Department of Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission are making every effort to support all students through this challenging time. Students facing LC examinations have been asked to keep focused and to keep working in preparation for the exams which are now scheduled for July.  More details will be forthcoming in the near future regarding the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate examinations and we will bring this information to your attention without delay. We have been asked by the DES not to make any decisions regarding the JC exams until the ongoing talks with the different stakeholders have concluded. We will be in touch as and when we have information for you and please know that whatever decision we make will be in the best interest of all of our students.

Wellbeing including physical activity

NEPS, the Department’s National Educational Psychological Service, has developed advice and resources for keeping Children and Young People well during Covid-19. These resources aim to support children and young people’s learning and wellbeing at this time.

In the context of wellbeing, NEPS has included a reference in its advice for young people and for parents of young children for the need for physical activity as part of everyone’s daily routine while schools are closed.

For information, the relevant text can be found at the following links:

Advice for Young People: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/advice-to-young-people-while-schools-are-closed.pdf

Advice for Parents: https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/guide-for-parents-supporting-children.pdf

Supporting Students with Additional Education Needs

The National Council for Special Education has developed resources for parents of children with additional needs who may benefit from specific advice during the period of school closure.  All resources are available on the NCSE website and publicised through education partners and Twitter. The NCSE visiting teacher service continues to provide direct telephone/skype support to families and students.  The NCSE resources can be accessed at: www.ncse.ie/online-resources and include;

  • resources for parents and teachers such as class\age level activities
  • practical advice on how to take care of Assistive Technology in the Home and a suite of Occupational Therapy and
  • Speech and Language Therapy resources (including a social story animation on attending a Covid-19 test Centre prepared by the HSE).

Temporary reassignment of SNAs

Currently, SNA personnel are being reassigned to assist with efforts to support front-line health workers.  We will make every effort to ensure that students who have access to an SNA are receiving supports throughout the next few weeks.

Acceptable User Policy (AUP)

Our school’s Acceptable User Policy (AUP) is in our school journal and we would ask that you and your children are familiar with its content.  It is important that students understand that the school expects all of its community to observe responsible and ethical use of such platforms in respect of other users - fellow students and staff. 

Contacting the School during Closure

Please do not hesitate to contact us at the school via this email address info@ardgillancc.ie and we will do all we can to address your query as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please follow the advice of the HSE and the Government;

Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

At the moment we should only leave our home to:

  • shop for essential food and household goods
  • attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
  • care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits
  • exercise outdoors, within 2 kilometres of your home and only with people from your own household - keeping 2 metres between you and other people
  • travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

We wish you and your families continued good health. We in Ardgillan are proud of how all members of our school community are continuing to espouse our 3 pillars of teamwork, respect and excellence, even in these difficult times.

Le meas,

Nuala Ní Mhurchú